LookSmart is a lower tier search network that has a pay-per-click advertising model similar to the major search engines. The disadvantage of using LookSmart is that it has only a fraction of the penetration of Google or Yahoo (or even MSN, for that matter). The advantage is that, in general, clicks can be purchased for much less than the big search engines. Work Media has tinkered around with LookSmart in the past. Our initial results were not all that favorable, as conversions were very low. In all fairness, however, we really haven’t done enough with LookSmart to draw any kind of valid conclusions.
LookSmart has just launched a contextual targeted distribution model through which you can place paid ads on its FindArticles web site. FindArticles is an interesting site that has (so it claims, at least) 10 million articles from magazines, newspapers, and other sources stored in a searchable database. Some of the articles are free, some of them are considered premium content that requires payment. With LookSmart’s new advertising option, you can place relevant ads on articles that pertain to your industry.
You won’t generate nearly the amount of traffic you will through the Google or Yahoo content networks, but the traffic will likely cost you much less on a per-click basis. It’s definitely another component you might consider for your search strategy as a way to increase your reach and generate cheap traffic. As always, the quality of this traffic should be measured in terms of conversions over some period of time to see if it is worth spending your money on. If it generates a positive return on investment, then stick with it. If not, abandon it.
If you are already a LookSmart advertiser, you should be aware that your ads will automatically begin being displayed on FindArticles beginning in May, unless you specifically opt out of this option.